St Canice's School (Westport)

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Findings

St Canice’s School has made sufficient progress in relation to the key next steps identified in ERO’s June 2020 report. The school will transition into ERO’s Evaluation for Improvement approach.

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

St Canice’s School is a Catholic integrated, full primary school in Westport, Buller. It serves the local town and rural areas, and has a roll of 145 students, about 12% of whom identify as Māori. Since 2020, the school has received support from a Ministry of Education (MOE) Student Achievement Function practitioner (SAF).

The teaching staff has remained stable since the June 2020 ERO review. A new assistant principal/director of religious studies (DRS) was appointed in 2021.

The school’s vision and mission are to ‘Weave our futures together’ with a ‘love for learning, our faith and a strong sense of belonging’. The key values for realising the vision and mission are: Wairuatanga (Faith and Spirituality), Manaakitanga (Care and Respect), Whanaungatanga (Community) and Rangatiratanga (Leadership and Success).

The board of trustees has set strategic priorities focused on achievement in literacy and numeracy, an inclusive future-focused curriculum, and a collaborative, professional learning culture.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

The June 2020 ERO report identified that improvements were required in:

  • building leadership capability

  • strengthening systems that promote the use of evaluation, inquiry and knowledge-building

  • developing the curriculum, including all essential learning areas

  • developing a robust appraisal system.

The June 2020 ERO report also identified some matters of non-compliance in relation to board administration, health and safety, and curriculum.

Progress

Coherent strategic planning practices, targeted professional learning and development (PLD) and within-school opportunities for teachers have led to more cohesive and sustainable leadership across the school. Leaders have made comprehensive use of external expertise to develop a shared understanding of what effective leadership looks like. A collaborative, professionally open environment promotes conditions to achieve valued student outcomes.

The board has developed systems to strengthen its schoolwide review and to scrutinise how well it is fulfilling its stewardship role. This includes processes for monitoring strategic goals and prioritising the special character values of the school. Trustees are focused on student achievement and progress, and targets that support the enactment of a local curriculum that meets family aspirations and the needs and interests of learners.

A curriculum framework that explicitly identifies key expectations for teaching and learning has been developed and implemented. An authentic, integrated and inclusive local curriculum is aligned with the school’s vision, values and cultural narratives, and all learning areas of the New Zealand Curriculum. The school has strengthened connections with local iwi. Teachers’ capabilities to engage with te reo Māori me ngā tikanga Māori are improving. Students have opportunities to identify, manage and inquire into aspects of their learning, and assess their progress. Schoolwide assessment practices are increasingly robust and fit for purpose. They provide meaningful evidence of student achievement and progress, to set next step learning goals.

Leaders and teachers have increased their understanding and use of internal evaluation for school improvement. School-wide collaborative inquiry informs teaching and learning practices, clarifies programme planning, and facilitates increased student agency in learning. Senior and middle leaders undertake strategic internal evaluations to report new knowledge and make recommendations to the board. Leadership groups are increasingly using an evidence-based approach to evaluate the effectiveness of programmes and practices, and to establish priorities that promote student success.

School leaders and teachers have developed an appropriate schoolwide professional growth cycle that provides multiple sources of evidence and feedback about teacher effectiveness. Professional learning opportunities and team meetings encourage teachers to take responsibility for their own professional learning to improve outcomes for students.

All actions for compliance have been addressed.

Key next steps

Trustees, leaders and teachers should continue to:

  • develop their collective capacity to do and use evaluation and inquiry at all levels of the school to sustain school innovation for improvement

  • embed the local curriculum to support students to be leaders of their own learning and confident in their culture, language and identity as they relate to the school’s special character

  • prioritise the building of teachers’ collective professional capability to achieve valued school outcomes for students.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

How well placed is the school to sustain and continue to improve and review its performance?

The school is well placed to sustain and continue to improve and review its performance.

Effective leadership at different levels in the school promotes collaborative practices and the conditions to improve outcomes for students. Schoolwide systems that focus on strategic priorities for student success and the school’s special character have been strengthened. An authentic curriculum framework and local curriculum have been developed and implemented to meet family/whānau aspirations for their children’s learning.

Students report they enjoy a sense of belonging and connection to the school and maintain positive relationships with each other and their teachers. Increased schoolwide understanding and use of internal evaluation are enabling teachers and leaders to assess how effectively programmes achieve valued outcomes. Professional inquiry and support processes are encouraging teachers to take collective and individual responsibility for learners’ achievement and progress.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed the ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklists. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • financial management
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014.

Conclusion

St Canice’s School has made sufficient progress in relation to the key next steps identified in ERO’s June 2020 report. The school will transition into ERO’s Evaluation for Improvement approach.

Dr Lesley Patterson
Director Review and Improvement Services (Southern)
Southern Region - Te Tai Tini

11 February 2022

About the school

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.

School Context

St Canice’s School (Westport) is a state integrated Catholic primary school catering for children in Years 1 to 8. Of the 126 students enrolled, 9% identify as Māori.

The Catholic special character of the school is supported by the mission statement, ‘At St Canice’s we weave together a love for learning, our faith and a strong sense of belonging to nurture connected tamariki who are confident in their potential to achieve.’ The recently redeveloped values of ‘Wairuatanga – Faith, Manaakitanga – Respect, Whanaungatanga – Community, and Rangatiratanga – Success’ underpin teaching and learning.

The professional learning planned for teachers in 2020 focuses on mathematics, creating a localised curriculum, and upskilling teachers’ understandings of inquiry into their practice.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • attendance
  • special character and wellbeing.

Since the May 2016 ERO review the school has experienced staff changes. A new principal was appointed for the beginning of 2020.

The school is a member of the Buller Kāhui Ako I Community of Learning.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school is continuing to work towards achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all students.

School reported data for 2019 shows equitable outcomes for most students. Almost all achieved at or above curriculum expectations in reading, most for writing, and the high majority for mathematics. Boys and girls achieved at similar levels in reading, with boys significantly lower than girls in writing, and slightly lower in mathematics. All Māori students achieved at or above curriculum expectations in reading, most achieved these in writing, and the high majority in mathematics.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

The school has been able to accelerate the learning of some students who have experienced increased rates of progress. Achievement data shows accelerated shifts in reading, writing and mathematics, including for Māori.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

The school’s Catholic special character is clearly evident and supports respectful, caring relationships among learners and teachers that promote positive engagement in learning. As a result, there is a calm, settled tone in classrooms.

Te ao Māori is highly valued and well promoted by the school. Tikanga Māori practices are well understood by students. Regular opportunities for them to lead kaupapa Māori in assemblies and mass are provided.

Most learners achieve well in core curriculum areas. Teachers use a range of effective teaching strategies. They skilfully model, scaffold, question and promote student understanding of what they are learning and why.

The school’s strategic aims appropriately focus on all learners progressing and achieving to their full potential. Trustees set clear strategic and annual goals linked to relevant priorities.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

Establishing a strategic and coherent approach to building leadership capability and collective capacity is required. Supporting the new leadership team and trustees to effectively address the areas for improvement highlighted in this review is needed.

Developing effective and sustainable schoolwide systems and processes is a focus of leaders and trustees in 2020, and ERO acknowledges that they have begun to address related priorities for improvement. There is a need for better alignment of organisational conditions to promote evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building.

A sound appraisal framework is in place. It is important that this is implemented robustly to effectively build staff capability. Although observation of teacher practice is a key aspect of this, consideration should be given to not only identifying good practice, but also providing meaningful feedback that informs next developmental steps.

A substantial number of areas of practice that required further development were identified in both the 2014 and 2016 ERO reviews. While some progress has been made, many continue to need strengthening.

Developing a localised curriculum to cover all essential learning areas remains a priority. This was also a next step in the 2016 ERO report. The work commenced on it in response to that report now needs to be completed.

3 Board Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the board and principal of the school completed the ERO board assurance statement and self-audit checklists. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to the following:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • finance
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student safety and wellbeing:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration and certification
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students
  • attendance
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of St Canice’s School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Needs development.

ERO will maintain an ongoing relationship with the school to build capacity and evaluate progress.

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success is available on ERO’s website.

5 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • positive relationships that support student engagement
  • use of effective teaching strategies that promote students’ understanding of their learning
  • the support and prominence given to te ao Māori across the school.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in:

  • building leadership capability and capacity
  • improving systems and processes to ensure the smooth running of the school
  • documenting curriculum guidelines that support effective implementation of all essential learning areas of The New Zealand Curriculum
  • strengthening understanding and use of internal evaluation to better inform and provide assurance to trustees about what is working and what is not.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to health and safety, and curriculum.

In order to address this, the board of trustees must:

  1. report schoolwide achievement to the school community [NAG 2]

  1. conduct consultation around the health curriculum every two years [Section 60B Education Act 1989]

  2. implement careers education and guidance at Years 7 and 8 [NAG 1 (f)]

  3. provide teachers and authorised staff with training for restraint [Physical Restraint Rules Clause 10]

  4. report in the annual report on compliance with Equal Employment Opportunities legislation [s 77A State Sector Act 1988]

  5. ensure that all non-registered staff are police vetted every three years [Section78C-CD Education Act 1989]

  6. ensure staff complete risk management procedures that show how they mitigate risks when taking students off site [NAG 5]

Area for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • fully record meeting procedures for in-committee minutes.

Since the onsite stage of the review, the school has provided evidence to ERO that restraint training has been completed. Evidence has also been provided that a health curriculum is in place. The board now needs to ensure that consultation with the community about this occurs every two years.

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education and NZ School Trustees Association consider providing support for the school in order to bring about improvements in:

  • effective planning, coordination and evaluation of the school's curriculum, including teaching and assessment practices

  • leadership and governance capability and effectiveness.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement

Southern Region - Te Tai Tini

23 June 2020

About the school

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.